Posts in Fraud, Scams & Safety Tips

Want to Save Big on Electronics? 8 Ways to Stay Safe Buying Used Technology

Looking for a new cell phone, laptop or tablet? There are tonnes on Kijiji, and a secondhand model is a great way of getting the device you have been lusting after, at a budget friendly price. Staying safe is particularly important when dealing with small, high value items, so here are our tips on how to have a great transaction.

Meet face to face. Never send a seller money from your bank account before inspecting the item in person, and don’t send payment via money transfer services.

Ask for a receipt. Get the seller to sign and write his/her name and address on the back of a receipt.

Take a screenshot. Have a copy of the Kijiji ad so you have it as a reference for the transaction.

Be suspicious of a nearly-new phone being sold without packaging or accessories. If the seller can’t produce a receipt or even a charger, it could be a stolen phone. Here is how to check whether a smartphone is legal for sale.

Establish the condition of the phone. Use the phone, open a few apps, and try to find out what state the battery life is in if you can.

Don’t accept a phone laptop or device in a sealed box. As great as sealed boxes may seem, you need to be able to inspect the item. It is not hard to fake a seal on a box, so if the seller won’t allow you to take the item out of the box to test it, it could be faulty or even a fake.

Be careful of malware and viruses on a used device. If possible start with a clean slate by reinstalling the operating system or wiping the phone.

Take your time, and don’t rush into any decisions. If you see an iPhone or similar expensive device advertised at a very significant discount (even if it’s not the most recent model), then it’s probably too good to be true. Don’t pay until you have the device in your hands, and if in doubt, just walk away.

Back to School Scams to Watch Out For

With the beginning of the school year right around the corner, students are facing many transitions. Many will be looking for a part time job that will be flexible enough to hold through the rigors of exam writing, and many post-secondary students are seeking affordable housing close to campus. The urgency of the situation can make you an easy target for those looking to victimize. Here are some tips from our resident fraud experts on how to avoid falling for fraud when you are heading back to school.

Avoiding back to school scams

Securing a Back to School Job
For most students in college or university (or who aspire to go), securing an income source is a big part of what will enable the budget to balance. Finding a job close to campus with flexible hours is a popular way to add some cash flow during the year. Working in retail, finding work in hospitality, babysitting on the side, or cleaning houses for money are all options that can supplement incomes part time that work with student schedules. Here is how to stay safe while looking for work:

Guard your personal information until you know who you are dealing with. Sending a resume to a legitimate company is no problem, but avoid sending out a resume with all your contact details and address to every ad you see. When dealing with anonymous ads, have a version of your resume that doesn’t give too much about yourself away. Wait until you get a reply from someone with a company name (if applicable) before sharing your contact details. Never share your social insurance number online.

Know the average wages for the field. Job scams generally will advertise a wage that is much higher than average for positions that don’t require much (if at all) in the way of specialized skills or training. Drivers, assistants, data entry, and secret shoppers are especially popular targets for fraud. Frequently, scam artists will post ads for positions at much higher pay than average, and will be in a rush to hire without an interview.

Never pay for a job. If the “job” involves start up costs, refunding “over paid” cheques, wiring money, or anything else that involves you sending or spending money, stay away! A real job will pay you, and won’t make you foot the bill for your own training or pay up front for a uniform or kit.

Check out more job ad red flags, or learn how students can improve their resume for more information on getting a part time position.

Finding Student Accommodations
With over 2 million unique monthly visitors, the Real Estate category on Kijiji has become an immensely popular destination for those seeking short-term or long-term rentals. It can be very difficult to secure accommodations in a new city, but don’t let panic get the best of you and allow yourself to be victimized by a fraudulent landlord. Here are some tips to ensure that moving day doesn’t end in tears:

Only deal with local landlords. The majority of scam artists operate out of foreign countries. The poster behind the ad might say they’re out of the country indefinitely, or that they won’t return until after you would need to agree to the rental (and pay up).

Never wire funds. As a prospective tenant, you should never be expected to send money in advance without having met the landlord or seen the rental unit. It’s crucial to physically visit any place you’re considering renting, rather than relying on scanned photos or website links – even if the apartment is real, there can be major shortcomings that are not clear without checking out the space.

Be skeptical of especially low rental prices. Check rental rates in the same area. Often, fraudsters will try to entice their victims with low prices. If the apartment you are looking at seems to have no flaws but is considerably under the median asking price for apartments of a similar size nearby, be on the alert, as it could be fraud.

Never share personal financial information. Some may be tricked by deceptive offers into sharing social insurance information, credit card and bank account numbers. Personal information can then be used by scam artists to open new bank or credit card accounts in your name. Legitimate landlords don’t need any of this information to do a credit check.

Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or strange, the circumstances are more than likely too good to be true. Go with your gut and steer clear.

Check out more tips on identifying real estate rental fraud, how to land an apartment when vacancies are low, and how to budget for your first apartment for more information on student housing.

Avoiding Contractor, Moving, and Other Service Scams

Whether you find a service off Kijiji or elsewhere, it is important to vet the quality of the work they do before you hire them. The costs of being defrauded by a fraudulent contractor or moving company can get quite high. Here are a few tips to ensure you are getting what you paid for.

Finding the right person: Avoiding moving and contractor scams

Search the company or individual’s name and see what comes up. Read review from other customers and request a list of references they have worked for before. Past customers are the best source of information on the quality of work.

Ask for recommendations. If a friend, colleague, or family member has recently had a good experience with a company, that is worth much more than a review from a stranger online.

Get multiple estimates. If one is far lower than the rest, that is a big red flag. Remember, if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is!

When hiring a moving company, make sure you get a full written contract that includes the estimate, exactly what work you need to have done, and specifies that the price cannot be more than 10% more than the original quote. Also discuss insurance; even good movers may damage something. What sets the good ones apart is taking responsibility for damages incurred and having or helping you set up the appropriate insurance.

Be wary of up front deposits. Some services require deposits (for instance, renovation services that have to buy raw materials), but never give one without first drawing up a contract and checking their references. If possible, front any initial costs for materials yourself so you don’t have to give out a deposit. A post-dated cheque or a PayPal payment are good alternatives to cash as you have recourse if the services paid for do not materialize.

Specifically ask about other costs not mentioned in the quote, and read the fine print on a contract.

Stay away from companies with out any history. Non reputable companies will frequently change their name to avoid the bad reputation they have gained from past work. If you can’t find any information about the past jobs of the company, keep looking for a company that has a reputation they are invested in protecting. Look for markers of an established business – for instance, printed business cards, a website, an address listed. If looking for a moving service, the presence vans advertising the company name and contact information are also a good sign, as it shows that the owners have invested in their name and are thus more likely to want to protect their reputation.

Be skeptical; if it seems too good to be true, chances are, it is. Want to learn more about moving scams? The Financial Services Commission of Ontario is running a chat on how to identify and avoid moving scams today, Thursday August 14th at 1 PM EST. Follow the hashtag #FraudChat on Twitter and the FSCO Twitter account

Staying Safe While Looking For Housing

Kijiji is a great way to buy or sell a house, list an apartment for rent, or find accommodations. We do our best to keep the site clean and safe, but an important aspect of maintaining a safe site is helping users recognize attempts at scams when they come across them.

If you come across ads or replies that are suspicious, be sure to report them to our staff, or the police if the situation warrants it. Here is how to keep yourself safe from real estate fraud:

  • View properties in person. Kijiji is only intended as a community site, and you should never rent a property without seeing it, or meeting the prospective tenant first. If either party claims they are overseas, they are unlikely to be legitimate. It is common that foreign fraudsters copy listings and won’t be able to show off the inside of an apartment. If they won’t show the inside, be aware that they might not own the building.
  • When looking for rental units, be aware of photos that look very professional or that appear to be model homes. Sometimes listings for properties for sale are copied to rental listings. Be suspicious if there are descriptive passages that would only be relevant to buyers, such as when the roof or furnace was last replaced. These are also signs that the ad might have been copied from a house for sale listing.
  • Be on your guard if the photos are grainy or only show small portions of the space, such as the bathroom.
  • When visiting a property, make sure you bring someone with you, or ask for personal identification of anyone you invite into your home. Make sure you tell someone who you are meeting and where you’ll be.
  • Never send or wire money. Sign a contract, write a postdated cheque, and ask for ID of the other party.
  • Kijiji doesn’t offer any type of buyer protection or payment programs. If anyone claims otherwise or you get an email advertising these services, please forward it to spoof@kijiji.ca as it is an attempt at fraud.
  • Never give out your credit card number or sensitive personal or banking information to those you communicate with over the internet. Be very suspicious of any ads that want responses such as your age, occupation, income, gender, bank, or SIN number as these can also be attempts to steal personal information.
  • Educate yourself about common types of fraud. Be suspicious of offers for large sums of money for helping with any task. Use your common sense – if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • Staying Safe Online: How to Spot Text Message Fraud

    At Kijiji, your security is a key priority! We monitor ads, replies, and investigate user reports to ensure that only legitimate activity is taking place and that bad people are denied access to Kijiji. Our relentless round the clock blocking of scam attempts drives fraudsters to be ever more creative and find new ways to connect with Kijiji users. Text messages have become their mode of contact of choice, as numbers attached to Kijiji ads are posted publicly, and they can send you messages without being blocked by our filters.

    Text messages often appear fairly innocuous initially, something like:

      “Am Interested in item, Please email me back at blahblah2765@gmail.com as i am at work”

    Your first signs that this may be a scam will be that the phone number isn’t local and the email address may contain gibberish or a lot of numbers. The text will also likely have strange punctuation and spelling. This should instantly ring alarm bells in your head because why would anyone want to be emailed if they’re contacting you through your phone? Kijiji has an email contact form that makes this easier for legitimate users! They choose to do this to cut the reply filters out of the equation. Once you are emailing with them, they can use google translate and paste their long winded stories much more easily (thus reaching the maximum amount of potential victims).

    Within the communication they will then give you a story, often that they can’t call you because they are working on an oil rig, or they are presently traveling the world and as such can only correspond via SMS text and email. They often claim to have jobs that they believe will make them seem more trustworthy; claims to be in the clergy, army, or Greenpeace are common with these types of scam attempts. They’ll feed you any excuse NOT to meet up with you, because they’re actually on the other side of the world doing their best to steal Canadians’ hard earned money far from the reach of Canadian law enforcement.

    The usual next steps:

  • They’ll offer you several hundred dollars more than you’ve asked for, because they would apparently love your car, dining table, horse, diamond ring, etc., for their sister, cousin, brother somewhere around the world and want to outbid everyone else.
  • Even though they’re very interested in what you’re selling, they can’t inspect it and would rather have their shipping agent or courier pick it up, but, of course there is a catch!
  • They’ll ask if you have a PayPal account and if not, they’ll want you to create one. Once you’ve done that or even if you haven’t, they’ll advise that there’s been a problem and send you a story something like this:
    • “I was just about to make the payment when I had this little problem with the picking up,I got an email from my agent..I thought I included that in my previous email. But he said he won’t come and pick up the vehicle unless I pay him the agent commission fee first in order to be able to schedule a pick up time, and my pick up agent head quarters is in the United Kingdom and all commission payments made for pick up, from anywhere in the world is sent to their head quarters in the United Kingdom and the only form of payments they accept is western union money transfer and I tried to pay online but I will need a credit card which i didn’t bring along, and there is no post office (there is usually a western union section in most post offices) or any western union agent offshore! So I have to ask you to help me with the pick up fees, I will include the $700 they charged to pick it up and take it my home(1st class treatment), to the payments I will send through paypal, after I have made the payments, I will need you to help me send the $700 to my pick up agent through western union money transfer, the western union money transfer can be made at a post office near to you,there is always a western union agent in most post offices or online at http://www.westernunion..com I will be making the payments shortly and will email you as soon as it has been done..”
  • Wow, what a great story! Then of course they’ll follow up with a genuine looking PayPal receipt that shows the “extra amount” for you to forward on to the “UK head quarters”; this is of course to trick you in to believing that they’ve deposited cash into your account and want you to wire the shipping/agent fee via western union/moneygram. On occasions they’ve been known to even threaten you by claiming that, they’ll get the federal police and PayPal legal involved if you don’t go ahead with the deal. Please be assured such threats are fake and harmless, so simply ignore them! No such deposit has been made in to your PayPal account – to verify, simply log in to your PayPal account via the official PayPal website and/or contact Paypal to verify.
  • If you are annoyed by such messages, we suggest that you remove your phone number from your ad, and to only send it to those who make it through the reply filter. We know that listing your phone number helps transactions move along quicker but unfortunately, at this time we have no way of preventing this type of message so it is your safest bet.
  • Remember, Kijiji always encourages anyone using the site to meet in person, face to face and never send or wire money to someone that you don’t know! We also want you to do your homework and take the right precautions by doing your own research (Start with Google search!).
  • If you have any questions, have received some suspicious messages, or need clarification simply contact our support team and we would be happy to clarify.